The Infinite Zenith

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Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – Review and Impressions After Three

“Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.” –Morty Smith, Rick and Morty

Strike Witches: Road to Berlin is coming out in 2020, and then Luminous Witches will air in 2021, it looks like the Strike Witches franchise has returned in full after a slow start in 2007 with its OVA – this series has been polarising for seemingly being an excuse to showcase female soldiers running around without any pants, but as the series progressed, it also matured deeply, showing that elements of world building can indeed far outweigh initial impressions that the series is merely for visual charm. Themes of camaraderie, trust and a determination to protect what one holds dear, plus minor themes about technological advancement, understanding and open-mindedness began making their way into a series to give characters credible growth. Strike Witches‘ 2013 movie, Operation Victory Arrow and Brave Witches represent a maturing series that began focusing more on the human side of the Human-Neuroi War, and of late, Strike Witches has become much more than being a flimsy excuse to fill a screen with crotches. It’s now been some two years since Brave Witches, and four years since Operation Victory Arrow; with new Strike Witches on the horizon, it stands to reason that fans have definitely earned something in the meantime to re-light their interest in the series.

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! (Strike Witches: 501-butai Hasshinshimasu!) appears to be this “something”: on the surface, it deals with everyday life amongst the 501st. From Yoshika taking up cooking for everyone owing to their incapacity to cook (Minna, in particular, manages to harm her fellow soldiers more than the Neuroi do), to Gertrude’s determination to have Erica maintain a clean room, from Charlotte’s terrifying driving to Eila’s inability to properly express her feelings for Sanya, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s comical portrayal of the 501st marks a far cry from the series’ typical features. In fact, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!‘s approach is so unexpectedly different that one would be forgiven if they were to mistake this for a bad joke: the animation and artwork appear as though it was produced by an algorithm that was designed to produce animation on its own, but was overfitted to a poor training data set. The insane premises and events suggest improvisation the same way Rick and Morty improvised the Interdimensional Cable skits. While inherently flawed, Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! also seems to express different relationships amongst the characters: Gertrude acts as a mentor of sorts for Yoshika, while the slovenly Erica seems to be more at home with the lazy Charlotte and Francesca. The dynamics result in odd moments that show the members of the 501st in a caricature form of themselves, and this produces a unique brand of humour that is as outlandish as Interdimensional Cable.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There is no discussion out there on Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! – I don’t mean that discussions are scant, or that they are light, because there simply is no one else talking about this series. This is unsurprising, given that this Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is meant to be a bit of a practical joke. The artwork is of a much lower quality than what I usually watch, although the vast blue skies of Strike Witches remain.

  • After becoming a part of the 501st, Yoshika is assigned to cooking duties because she’s apparently the only person on the team who can make anything edible. Gertrude feels badly for her and decides to help out. In Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Gertrude has a much closer friendship with Yoshika: she was initially distant, feeling Yoshika to resemble her younger sister, but the two get along quite well in Strike Witches proper.

  • Minna is the commander of the 501st, and while she’s normally gentle and kind, there are some conditions where her personality will harden, usually in regards to everyone’s safety. This will not manifest in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, and instead, Minna is presented as being a bit ditzy, as well as having a terrible sense of taste. Her cooking is as lethal as a M829 APFSDS, putting everyone on the floor: when she suggests cooking in place of Yoshika, everyone vehemently objects.

  • The events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are not so clearly determined: while everyone is located at the Britannian base see in the first season, Mio and Minna mention an infamous scene where Minna, concerned for Mio’s safety, holds her at gunpoint and demands that Mio stand down from active duty. This occurred later in season one, and the 501st leave the Britannian base after the season ends. The Sky That Connects Us shows that everyone is scattered around the globe, so Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! might not be really a formal part of the Strike Witches timeline.

  • Charlotte and Erica are perhaps two of the scummiest members of the 501st, if Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is anything to go by. When assigned to patrol duty, they simply lounge around in swimwear and suggest that Yoshika do the same. It’s a callback to the first episode when Charlotte is seen chilling, but unlike the series proper, the low level of detail means that contours and the like are rendered with a much lower fidelity.

  • Whereas Gertrude usually is content to deliver a verbal tongue-lashing in response to Erica’s slovenly ways, in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, she resorts to physical beatings that put everyone on the floor. Yoshika is made to suffer when she decides to do patrol duty properly and is given a heavy jacket that gives her heat stroke. With Yoshika out of commission, Minna cooks for everyone and manages to harm the 501st in ways that even the Neuroi do not.

  • When Gertrude’s patience with Erica’s mess reaches its limits, she enlists Yoshika to help her in clearing out a mess that would defeat even the Konmari Method™: Marie Kondo’s approach to reducing clutter is to use a simple metric in deciding what to keep and what to chuck. If something creates happiness or has sentimental value, it can be kept, and otherwise, it is to be discarded. My parents’ method is simpler and more effective – if something is actively being used, then it should be kept.

  • I would imagine that my parents’ approach, which I’ve adopted, would make for a much more boring approach. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, the Konmari Method™ eventually results in a series of accidents that allow Erica’s mess to be cleared, but also causes her to lose a medal. While trying to find the medal, Erica reintroduces the mess, undoing everyone’s efforts. One wonder how such a mess is even possible.

  • I actually had no intentions of writing about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but the combination of wanting to give myself a challenge and the fact that there’s no other blogs talking about this series means a unique opportunity for me to see if there’s anything noteworthy I could say about what essentially amounts to a shoddily-prepared show for something like Interdimensional Cable: the events of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! are outlandish and zany enough so that they could fit within the realm of what is shown in the multi-verse.

  • Fanservice in is much lighter in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! than anywhere else in Strike Witches, which started out shoving everyone’s pantsu into the viewers’ faces. AS the series progressed, while such moments were still present, they became secondary to character growth. Here, Erica and Charlotte apologise after Minna kicks their asses for making fun of her dress.

  • The Interdimensional Cable atmosphere of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! is why I’ve opted to go with one of the more famous quotes from Rick and Morty, where Morty presents a very bleak view of the universe to Summer and suggests that things are what they are, so one might as well enjoy themselves with the time and plane of existence they do have. This is one way of saying that folks should not be so invested into minutiae surrounding their entertainment and take things a little less seriously.

  • After Minna and Mio are invited to a party for officiers, Gertrude and Yoshika overlook duties at the base. They ren’t enough to rein in the undisciplined antics of Erica, Francesca and Charlotte, but it turns out that, in the absence of standards, Erica, Francesca and Charlotte actually have no goofing off to do. They decide to explore the rooms of their squadron mates, but find things that disturb them.

  • Francesca, Charlotte and Erica’s reactions mirror my reaction to the weather yesterday: we’re only a stone’s throw from May, but Winter evidently wasn’t through with us yet and dropped 15 centimetres of snow on the city, bringing everything to a halt. Back in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, Yoshika and Gertude explained that nothing special occurred, while the lipstick marks on Mio and blood on Minna imply that something hilarious went down behind the scenes.

  • After Yoshika accepts her paycheque, which features a bonus because her cooking is single-handedly keeping everyone’s spirits up, Yoshika decides to go shopping for new cooking implements. Gertrude decides to accompany her, along with Lynette, but when Charlotte offers to drive, the mere suggestion is enough to strike fear into the hearts of all those who know of her driving. As far as I can tell, Charlotte was not that bad a driver in Strike Witches, and I don’t ever recall a moment where she’s driven anyone anywhere.

  • A part of the humour in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! stems from implicit moments, as well: leaving audiences to work out what occurred can be as funny as seeing things for oneself. While I’ve not very much to say about things in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, I can say that watching the incredible antics of the 501st does bring a smile to my face. One of the genuine criticisms I have of Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! so far is that Lynette hasn’t had much screen time yet. Of the Witches, I’m rather fond of her character.

  • Back at base, Minna decides to make lunch, and Eila somehow gets pulled into things, reasoning that fermented stuff akin to the Japanese-style cooking Yoshika’s been doing must taste better. They whip up pickled herring and decide to add ammonia to it (which, incidentally, is toxic), scaring the living daylights out of Erica. She runs off to find Mio, in the hopes of putting an end to this nightmare. When Mio manages to cut the containers open, their noxious gases incapacitates her, reducing her to a trembling wreck. In any other series, this would be a pretty big deal, but in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, all injuries are temporary, and all damage sustained is quickly repaired. Hence, viewers may enjoy a laugh at Mio’s expense.

  • Later, Eila succumbs to a cold and is bed ridden: while Yoshika accompanies Sanya on a night mission, Gertude and Erica look after her. Eila’s feelings for Sanya have formed the basis for many a joke in-series: Sanya is near oblivious to Eila’s feelings even where everyone else is aware of them.

  • I’ve heard that summoning circles are all the rage on social media these days, and after leaving some of the Sanya cutouts so Eila won’t be lonely, the others allow her to rest. These props actually glow in the dark by some unknown mechanism, and actually look quite intimidating. When Sanya returns from her patrol and sees these, she’s a little put off, and once Eila recovers, she immediately hunts down Erica for the trouble.

  • If folks were looking for a proper slice-of-life with the 501st, then Operation Victory Arrow and the manga, The Sky That Connects Us, do a solid job of presenting what goes down between Neuroi attacks. I will be returning to write about Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! towards the end of the season: while nothing substantial, it is something that is fun in its own right. We are at the end of April now, and now is a good time as any to mention that, after a day of delayed flights, I am now in San José, California, where I will be attending Facebook’s Developer Conference, F8. I may work on a few posts here and there, but I expect to be quite busy until my return early May.

While Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! has numerous flaws and very little in the way of themes, its unusual brand of humour brings out the worst of all the characters and gives audiences something to laugh at – I imagine that this is a deliberate design choice to keep audiences busy, and presumably, to lower their guard ahead of Road to Berlin‘s release. Since Joint Fighter Wing Take Off! comes across as weak, Road of Berlin will stand in stark contrast and be more consistent with the increasingly detailed and mature themes that Strike Witches has trended towards. Fans of Strike Witches won’t gain much more than a few cheap laughs out of the characters’ misfortune in Joint Fighter Wing Take Off!, but it does act as somewhat of a reminder that each of Yoshika, Lynette, Perrine, Mio, Charlotte, Francesca, Gertrude, Erica, Minna, Eila and Sanya have come a long way since their initial appearances in 2008’s Strike Witches. The series is no longer dominated by needless pantsu, and there is a deeper, more enjoyable theme to the 501st’ exploits – if Road to Berlin is going to be more moody and reflective than the second season, then for the time being, viewers might as well watch everyone in unusual and strange conditions that exaggerate their characters far more than a proper season would.

Yoshika Miyafuji and the Frostbite Engine, or, Strike Witches: Road to Berlin and The Road to Battlefield V

“Hikari Karibuchi was able to take out a Neuroi Hive in the Arctic cold! With a Liberator pistol!”
“Well, I’m sorry. I’m not Hikari Karibuchi.”

—Obadiah Stane and a scientist on miniaturising the Arc Reactor, Iron Man

Earlier this week, it was announced that Strike Witches would return the story to Yoshika Miyafuji and the 501ˢᵗ Joint Fighter Wing. In a thrilling trailer, Yoshika and her fellow Witches deploy from the bomb bays of a B-17 Flying Fortress into the countryside below. They are immediately surrounded by a Neuroi swarm vastly outnumbering the swarms seen in the movie, beginning a fierce engagement. The trailer closes with a distraught Yoshika resolving to protect everyone. Set for release in 2020, this marks the triumphant return of the 501ˢᵗ, after Brave Witches followed Hikari Karibuchi’s time in St. Petersburg: it’s the first time we’ve seen Yoshika and her friends take to the skies since the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs, marking a welcome return to the familiar Witches that really kicked things off. With the likes of Strike Witches The Movie and Operation Victory Arrow setting the precedent for what Strike Witches can potentially cover, expectations are high: while Strike Witches‘ first two seasons were best known for their weekly enemies and flimsy excuses to stare at pantsu (which is unsurprisingly and, should remain, illegal in all jurisdictions outside the realm of fiction), The Movie began developing a deeper narrative about what being a Witch meant, and Operation Victory Arrow explored different aspects of new technology, the strength of resolve when one is fighting for their homeland and how trust is lost and gained. These substantial changes in Strike Witches gave the series a new meaning and the possibility to explore a world that had been surprisingly well-developed and detailed, for a series that was once meant to provide gratuitous pantsu moments. Thus, when Brave Witches came and continued to hone this pattern, crafting a meaningful and engaging story with new characters, it became clear that the world of Strike Witches definitely could stand on its own and explore a wide range of interesting themes. As a result, when we turn the story back to the 501ˢᵗ, expectations are high for this group of Witches to impress and make the most of their world to create a compelling narrative.

Although the date seems quite far off, being 2020, there are a few factors that make this timeline much more palatable. For one, this new Strike Witches series, titled Strike Witches: Road to Berlin, is going to be a televised broadcast, which corresponds with a concrete timeline of when audiences will be able to watch this; Girls und Panzer: Das Finale has no known timeline, and so, could conclude in 2023 at the current rate of progression. The Witches’ deployment from a B-17 Flying Fortress also seems to resemble the Narvik Grand Operations opening cinematic, where British Paratroopers make a jump onto the battlefield. Readers wondering why this post has all of the metadata tags and title of a Battlefield V post have their question answered here: Battlefield V returns players to the World War Two setting, and Strike Witches is set in an alternate-history version of World War Two. Alluded to in my previous post, the shared setting means that players who also happen to enjoy Strike Witches will finally be able to run with some of their favourite Strike Witches loadouts in the Frostbite Engine. Moreover, with a powerful new customisation system projected for Battlefield V, I imagine that players could fine-tune weapons, and even cosmetic features, so that they can more closely resemble their favourite Witch should they be inclined to make a purchase for those items. This aspect of Battlefield V has drawn a considerable amount of flak and will be the subject of a discussion for another day; at present, I am content to simply run with the same weapons and setup as the Witches of Strike Witches, and believe that it will be necessary to learn more about the customisation system before attempting to run around as Lynette Bishop, Gertrude Barkhorn, Georgette Lemare or Nikka Katajainen.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In this post, I will be mixing talk of Battlefield V with talk about Strike Witches: my story with Strike Witches dates back some seven and a half years, when I picked up the first season out of curiosity. Those I knew recommended against watching the anime on reputation alone, but once I got into Strike Witches, I found a simple and modestly entertaining series during its first season. The second season was more or less a carbon copy of the first, merely being set in a different setting and also began exploring the limits of magic.

  • Here, I give the German MP-40 a go: an open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun firing 9×19 mm Parabellum rounds at 500-550 RPM, giving the medic class a viable close-quarters weapon. Battlefield 1‘s medics were largely relegated to medium range combat, and only had the Federov Avtomat as a closer range weapon. This is contrary to the medic’s role of being in closer ranges to heal and revive teammates. One interesting tidbit about the MP-40 is that Battlefield V‘s soldier is holding it correctly: holding the magazine itself could move the magazine out of position, causing the weapon to stop firing.

  • With a selection of submachine guns and semi-automatic rifles available to the medic, this class will become much more versatile and useful now. I believe in Strike Witches: The Movie, Erica Hartmann also holds her MP-40 in the correct manner, gripping the weapon closer to the magazine housing. While typically rolling with the MG42, as Gertrude and Minna does, she switches over to the MP-40 after her MG42’s barrel overheats mid-combat.

  • Running with a proper Karlsland Witch loadout in the finished Battlefield V will largely depend on how the game treats the MG42: this general purpose machine gun could be configured as either an LMG or medium machine guns. Since Battlefield V chooses to balance MMGs by making soldiers unable to aim down sights unless they have their bipods deployed, I did not utilise the MG34 to any real extent during the closed alpha, and a MMG configured MG42 would force players to adopt a more defensive style. Conversely, an LMG-configured MG42 would allow for players to play as aggressively as do the Karlsland Witches.

  • By comparison, bolt-action rifles are much rarer in Strike Witches: the anime allows the Witches to carry heavy arsenals without effort on virtue of their magic, so they can carry heavier weapons into combat, including the Type 99 cannon and Boys Anti-Tank Rifle. Running an authentic Lynette Bishop loadout, then, is impossible, since the mechanics of Battlefield V are such that heavier weapons would necessarily be mounted. However, this isn’t going to stop anyone from being effective with the bolt-action rifles and semi-automatic rifles: I managed to land consecutive kills here with the Karabiner 98k while defending a point.

  • While my performance at the start of the closed alpha was quite poor, once I became accustomed to moving around more slowly, with squad-mates, and chose to play a more defensive game, things turned around dramatically, to the point where KD ratios exceeding 1.5 became the norm. Battlefield V has gone the extra mile to encourage a more tactical play-style: by deliberately limiting players’ ammunition capacity, this prevents camping, while the shorter time to kill encourages a more defensive play-style that is far removed from the aggressive swarming tactics that worked so well in Battlefield 1.

  • The end result is that a shorter time to kill and reduced ammunition capacity forces players to move strategically, picking the best times to press forward and attack, or else defend a position. Things are much more skill driven, and this will hopefully result in much more consistency in one’s experience: it only took me around five hours to get comfortable with Battlefield V‘s approach, whereas with Battlefield 1, I am forced to accommodate for random factors that impact my gunplay.

  • Even though the sweet spot is completely removed from Battlefield V, I nonetheless found sniping to be superbly enjoyable: close to the alpha’s end, I was nailing back-to-back kills one enemies. By this point in time in Battlefield 1, I’ve largely stopped playing within my rifles’ sweet spots when running as a scout: the Enfield Silenced is a superior all-around weapon and aiming for the head will ensure a one-hit kill regardless of the sweet spot.

  • I speculate that Road to Berlin will likely deal with the Human-Neuroi War’s later stages: in World War Two, the Allied forces’ assault on Berlin marked the closing stages of the war, and in Strike Witches, we’ve seen the equivalent of The Battle of Britain in the first season, and the Liberation of France during the second season. With Nazi Germany being the final part of the war, it stands to reason that Road to Berlin will see some of the fiercest fighting seen in Strike Witches to date. The trailer certainly seems to suggest this: the sheer number of Neuroi on screen far surpasses anything seen previously, even in The Movie.

  • While the closed alpha saw players running around in the frozen hills of Narvik, Battlefield V has also showcased concept art of other locations, including Northern France, Rotterdam, Arnhem (so, players will get to recreate the Battle of Arnhem in the Frostbite Engine and play as Perrine), and North Africa (fans of the 31ˢᵗ Joint Fighter Squadron Afrika will rejoice). This is particularly exciting, and in some of the more open maps, such as amidst the rolling hills and sleepy villages of France, it might be possible for some heavy armoured combat to take place.

  • Bringing the sort of tank combat that ought to have been seen in World of Tanks and Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match will be one of the other things I’m looking forwards to seeing in Battlefield V: even if the scale of the tank battles are smaller, the fact is that the Frostbite Engine is incredibly sophisticated and in previous iterations of Battlefield, tank combat has been quite satisfying.

  • The new mechanics of tank combat in Battlefield V forces tankers to play more strategically: much like how infantry carry less ammunition, tanks now have a finite pool of shells for their main cannon and secondary machine guns.  Reloading is a slow and nerve-wracking process, leaving tankers exposed to enemy action. As such, it is no longer viable to shell buildings to the ground, or camp in some remote corner of the map and pick off distant foes. One must make every shot count, but when rounds connect, they are devastating.

  • Going purely from my impressions of armoured warfare in the closed alpha and how tanks are quite fragile against Panzerfaust rounds, the Daigensui-ryu is utterly worthless in Battlefield V: charging into an urban area without any infantry support will doom any tank, even the mighty Tiger I. This individual’s infamy has passed into the realm of obscurity now: five years previously, they’d been reviled for starting a brutal flame war arguing that Black Forest’s practices in Girls und Panzer were a proper display of the school’s skill, and Shiho’s preparedness to disown Miho was justified.

  • With the revelation that Shiho cares very much for her daughters despite her outward appearances, it is quite clear that the old flame wars amounted to little more than a waste of time. Supplementary materials further show that Shiho is a good parent, but struggles to make her feelings known. So, she hides her doubts behind a veneer of toughness. I watched the flame war from the sidelines at the time, since I was entangled in trying to finish my honours thesis program at the time, and looking back, I believe that Shiho’s inability to make her feelings clear could give the impression that she’s cold and unyielding.

  • While I may espouse that Battlefield V is Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match as it should have been, featuring much more dynamic and skill-driven gameplay, a part of me wishes that they would port Dream Tank Match over to the PC. However, I imagine that Dream Tank Match will release for PC the same way Half-Life 3 will release for PC, so having DICE bring new stories of World War Two into life in their engine is more than a satisfactory substitution: it’s like losing a dime and finding a dollar. I’m glad that Battlefield V will be exploring some of the lesser-known battles of the Second World War, and in a later post, I will be dropping by with the last batch of closed alpha screenshots and my own wishlist of what I hope Battlefield V will have in terms of content.

  • The Bren gun in the closed alpha was a mixed bag: initially, I struggled to perform with the Bren because of its low rate of fire and longer time to ADS. This meant I was losing firefights frequently, trying to use the gun in a way that it was not meant to be used. However, once I got the hang of it, I began playing more defensively, hanging back and picking off enemies at range while providing suppressive fire for allies, and the Bren became a powerhouse weapon that I went on several killstreaks with.

  • The Bren is yet another weapon that illustrates that with enough time, one could get used to a weapon and its mechanics to get more out of it: by the end of the closed alpha, I was tearing apart enemies with the weapon between the Bravo and Delta capture points in conquest, using my ammo pouches to help teammates resupply, and building up fortifications to provide our positions with more cover. While the fortification system is useful and fun, one of the things I did not see in the closed alpha was the ability to build a snowman for bonus morale points.

  • The Bren’s slower firing rate and unwieldy iron sights might make it a bit of a challenge to use at extreme close quarters, but at some ranges, it is possible to hipfire the weapon and score kills with it. In order to run with Perrine’s Arnhelm Bridge loadout, I would also need to have a PIAT handy. Because of the class system, it may or may not be possible to pull this off, since the PIAT is an anti-tank weapon and likely to be made available to the anti-vehicular archetype for the assault class. American-made Bazookas might also be available as a viable anti-vehicle weapon, and looking through inventories of World War Two-era anti-tank weapons, the list is extensive.

  • This post was largely written about Strike Witches: Road to Berlin, and before I wrap up, I’ll explain where the page quote is sourced from – I’ve been doing some catch-up with some of the MCU movies that I did not watch previously, by beginning with 2007’s Iron Man. During one point in the movie, while tasking his scientists to replicate the Arc Reactor, Obadiah Stane yells at the lead scientist at their lack of progress. The page quote, then, is a modified variant of the quote: I was most impressed with how Brave Witches handled their Neuroi Hive fight, being a true example of teamwork and resourcefulness. As a result, Yoshika and her fellow Witches have a rather tall order ahead of them – they must put on an equally good showing without resorting to the ridiculous antics that were seen at the end of seasons one and two when the 501ˢᵗ took out their hives.

  • The ribbon system was very inconsistent in the closed alpha, and I imagine that ribbon criteria will likely be tuned before the final release. Here, I earn one for resupplying team mates, and with this final screenshot, my part-Strike Witches-part-Battlefield V closed alpha talk comes to a close. I’m sure that readers might be disappointed to learn that this post has no screenshots of Road to Berlin, but I do have a stockpile of Battlefield V closed alpha screenshots to make use of, and a post talking about Strike Witches with five screenshots would not be too exciting, either. Upcoming posts are less likely to disappoint readers – I am going to write about the second Yuru Camp△ OVA very soon, having recently watched it, and there’s also Harukana Receive‘s second episode to look at, as well.

The Battlefield V closed alpha provided a fine opportunity to run around with some of the weapons that will feature in Battlefield V; the time to kill at present is very low, and with semi-automatic weapons having next to no spread, their laser-like precision at range creates an interesting challenge in which semi-automatic weapons become sufficiently powerful to dominate gameplay. The Gewehr 43 and StG 44 in semi-automatic mode are so versatile that they may render the other weapons obsolete if not properly balanced. Fortunately, there is a solution: adding increased recoil to semi-automatic weapons forces players to learn their pattern without requiring changing spread and damage mechanics. Skill-based shooters are largely built around recoil control, so if Battlefield V can stick with modifying recoil patterns and modifiers, as well as reload times, for different weapons without affecting damage, then each weapon will have a consistent behaviour that one can learn over time. Mastering these patterns confer improved experiences over time and also provides an incentive to better oneself: there is a sense of accomplishment when games reward players for taking the time to learn their mechanics. Players who invest the time in learning their weapons and archetypes will help their team substantially and may also bring about more Only in Battlefield™ moments that make the best titles of the series so captivating to play. Similarly, in Strike Witches, Yoshika started out as a bit of a joke, but her persistence and determination to do right in the name of her friends and duty led her to become a hero of sorts. With at least a year-and-a-half between the present and Strike Witches: Road to Berlin‘s release, I imagine that there will be a sufficient amount of time to go into Battlefield V and unlock all of the necessary weapons and equipment needed to run with the same, or at least, a very similar loadout as their favourite Witch.

Strike Witches: The Movie Review and Reflection

“Ethics are not necessarily to do with being law-abiding. I am very interested in the moral path, doing the right thing.” —Kate Atkinson

Released four years ago on March 17, 2012, Strike Witches: The Movie follows in the aftermath of Strike Witches’ second season, during which Yoshika had exhausted her magic reserves in destroying a Neuroi hive to save Mio. Two months following this, Yoshika has set her sights on becoming a medical doctor and is studying to enter medical school, but after Shizuka Hattori informs Yoshika that she is to study abroad at a prestigious medical school in Helvetia, Yoshika accepts the offer. Concurrently, Charlotte and Francesca are forced to engage Neuroi in Venezia, following a gondola race with some members of the 504th Joint Fighter Wing, and back in Karlsland, Commander Minna sends Erica and Gertrude to investigate the presence of Neuroi that are apparently coming out of the blue. Back on the Akagi, Shizuka grows frustrated by Yoshika’s disregard for military protocol, and upon their arrival in Gallia, she shares a conversation with Perrine about how Yoshika’s actions and beliefs have benefitted the 501st as a whole. Continuing on their journey, Yoshika and Shizuka stop at a village along the River Rhine to aid landslide victims, and later, encounter additional Neuroi. Despite the pair’s efforts, Shizuka is shot down and Yoshika’s efforts to engage a Neuroi, while successful, leaves her critically wounded. Shizuka comes to and manages to escape the Neuroi’s jamming field long enough to rally the 501st, who become notified of Yoshika’s situation. Hearing the thoughts and feelings of her friends, Yoshika recovers her magic and, upon receiving her old striker unit from Mio, takes to the skies to aid the 501st in taking out the Neuroi. Commander Minna subsequently reactivates the 501st after learning that the Neuroi are mounting a counteroffensive. Grossing around two hundred million yen (2.35 million CAD with the current exchange rates), Strike Witches: The Movie does not hold a candle to some of the more popular anime movies that have come out (the Love Live! The School Idol Movie grossed 2.86 billion yen, or 33.74 million CAD) or even some of the larger anime movies I’ve had the chance to enjoy (K-On! The Movie grossed 1.9 billion yen, roughly 22.42 million CAD, and Madoka Magica: Rebellion Story totalled 2.08 billion yen, roughly 24.54 million CAD). However, despite the commonly-held misconceptions about Strike Witches and its unusual design where characters forgo pants, Strike Witches: The Movie nonetheless holds its own merits as a film, and moreover, foreshadows the future directions of the Strike Witches franchise as a whole.

In comparison to Strike Witches’ first two seasons, Strike Witches: The Movie begins to develop a more substantial narrative to explore how the different characters eventually culminate in meeting up and engaging an unexpected Neuroi threat. Throughout the movie, it becomes clear that the film is meant to follow Shizuka’s journey with of the 501st’s most illustrious members. Initially, Shizuka becomes quite impatient with Yoshika: the latter has never treated military protocol or formalities with any real degree of seriousness, and this attitude was what landed her in a variety of situations during the TV series. As Perrine remarks, Yoshika will disregard orders that seem contrary to her own internal sense of right and wrong: this is exemplified when the Akagi strikes an iceberg, and despite lacking any magic, uses all of her resources to save a trapped sailor. Thus, Shizuka spends much of the film berating Yoshika, stating that “orders are absolute”. From a real world perspective, this is true: there is a chain of command and strict structuring in the armed forces to maintain order, and to ensure that unnecessary loss does not result from lack of discipline. However, through Yoshika, Strike Witches appears to be emphasising that the fictional Witches themselves are not meant to be seen strictly as soldiers: they’re dynamic, three-dimensional beings with their own beliefs and desires. It is this dimensionality that allows the 501st, and Yoshika in particular, to have left such an impact on how the Joint Fighter Wing performs. The moral of Strike Witches: The Movie therefore is that following one’s internal sense of right and wrong against orders is sometimes an necessary evil in extraordinary circumstances, and Shizuka eventually has an opportunity to see for herself why Yoshika is such an effective Witch despite her nonchalant attitude towards military hierarchies.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Both my old Strike Witches: The Movie reviews were written four years ago, and the original review spent quite a bit of time drawing parallels with this film and Gundam 00: Awakening of the Trailblazer, comparing the two film’s respective dependence on some familiarity with two previous seasons’ worth of materials in order to be fully enjoyed. In both cases, the films are intended for existing fans of their respective franchises, and are quite unsuited for individuals who’ve not prior familiarity.

  • Compared to how I wrote four years previously, it’s actually quite surprising that the manner in which I write has largely remained unchanged, although armed with four extra years of insight, I tend to delve into patterns and themes more efficiently than I did with my previous review of the movie. I note that while this post no longer lays claim to having the internet’s first set of Strike Witches: The Movie screenshots, it definitely has more screenshots than my two previous reviews (each of which had the unusual count of fifteen images).

  • Consequently, it’s been somewhat of a challenge to ensure that this review features a completely different set of screenshots than was used in both of my earlier reviews, and typically, this is why I don’t often go back and review things more than three times: it becomes progressively harder to get new screenshots the more reviews I do. Here, Shizuka delivers the letter of offer to Yoshika at the Miyafuji residence, and both Yoshika’s grandmother and mother can be seen; it’s quite clear that Yoshika takes off after her grandmother.

  • After a speed race goes awry, Francesca hits her head on one of the numerous foot bridges in Venice (Venezia in Italian) and requires healing from one of the 504th Witches. Set after the events of Operation Victory ArrowStrike Witches: The Movie initially begins with different Witches scattered around Europe following the second season, although everyone does seem to retain a connection to Yoshika in some way to serve as a constant reminder of how strong of an impact Yoshika’s had on the 501st.

  • Charlotte aims down sights while engaging an unexpected Neuroi over Venice. Most of the Neuroi the Witches initially engage are mobile transformable types with a large ring in their midsection, hinting at the fact that they all originate from the same source. This is compounded by the fact that no Neuori hive is capable of deploying units outside of their radius, so where the Neuroi are appearing from forms the basis for a section of the movie’s narrative.

  • Shizuka hails from a family of soldiers, and being the first Witch, expectations were high for her to do the family proud. She’s adamant about adherence to regulations and is shocked to learn that Yoshika is remarkably blasé about said regulations. She pulls Yoshika out of the kitchens here and later lectures her after Yoshika decides to help the Akagi’s crew keep the flight deck clean.

  • However, Yoshika has a significantly more serious side to her, as well: she has a strong sense of morality and will go to great lengths to save others even if it means putting herself in harm’s way. Her expression here is rarely seen, and despite being an uncommonly empathetic, kind individual, Yoshika’s angry state is quite something to behold.

  • Shizuka’s reaction to her idol’s preferred manner of greeting an old friend is one of embarrassment: from the documentation, Yoshika is particularly fond of Lynette, and it’s their first time meeting since the second season ended (so, roughly two months).

  • The last time I saw Perrine’s residence was in the third of the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs: while released well after the movie, I find that the movie to flow better because the setup in the OVAs give more exposition as to what the different characters are up to: Minna, Gertrude and Erica are operating from St. Trond’s base near the Karlsland border, Lynette and Perrine are helping reconstruction efforts in Gallia, and Francesca and Charlotte go on adventures near the Mediterranean.

  • After botching her dish during dinner, Shizuka finds herself feeling down; in sharing a conversation with Perrine, she learns that Yoshika’s unusual position as a member of the 501st leaves an indelible impact on the others. This scene definitely highlights how far Perrine’s come since the first season: jealous of Yoshika’s closeness to Mio, she sabotaged Yoshika quite frequently, but by the end of the second season, their experiences together means that the two get along quite well. This sort of character development was a welcome bonus in a series better known for its pantsu moments.

  • I wonder if some viewers are still salty that Eila and Sanya did not get an episode to themselves during Operation Victory Arrow: they only appeared in the OVA’s final moments, and are first seen in the movie shortly before they are seen off by members of the 502nd. Four years after the movie released, and three years after Vividred Operation, there’s finally been traces of intel concerning the continuation. Unverified sources state that it will deal with the 502nd, and truth be told, I’m looking for a narrative similar in cohesiveness to what was seen during Operation Victory Arrow and the film.

  • Under overcast and foggy conditions, Eila and Sanya set off for their next destination. Like Francesca and Charlotte before them, Eila and Sanya also wonder how Yoshika’s doing: Eila pulls out the “Tower” tarot card, often associated with disruptive, and (possibly) destructive change. In Harry Potter, it foretell’s Dumbledore’s death, and while not quite as pronounced in Strike Witches The Movie, foretell’s Yoshika’s fate in the movie’s climax.

  • En route to Helvetica, Yoshika learns of a landslide and immediately resolves to help out. The radio jamming properties the Neuroi exhibit exacerbate the situation, making it difficult for the Witches to call in reinforcements and support. These elements deliberately act to set up the events of the movie’s final twenty minutes, and it is at this point where I realise that my screenshot distribution for the film are largely skewed, as with the reviews that came before this.

  • With Yoshika’s help, most of the villager’s injuries are tended to; the number of injured is great, and running out of bandages, Yoshika decides to use her uniform that Lynette had painstakingly sewn as makeshift bandages, demonstrating once more her commitment to people. Yoshika is oft-criticised for being a generic character (unyielding morals, seeming lack of weaknesses, a kind personality), and while I was intending to do a standalone talk on why generic protagonists continue to endure in anime, it appears that I can succinctly cover the points in some of the bullet points in this here review.

  • As with everyone previously, Yoshika’s impact is sufficient to positively influence Gertrude, Erica and Minna. I argued previously that the generic female protagonist (seen elsewhere in Kantai Collection‘s Fubuki and Girls und Panzer‘s Miho Nishizumi) serve to provide a consistent yard stick to build a series around. A familiar character would (in the beginning) act as an anchor that helps audiences acclimatise to the different worlds presented by different anime.

  • Then, as a series continues, the so-called generic character might grow and become more mature/adapted for their world to illustrate how their unique group of friends and world shapes who they become. Fubuki becomes a more competent kan-musume ready to sail alongside Akagi in combat, and Miho rediscovers her joy for Panzerfahren, while Yoshika appreciates that helping people can come in all forms. These differences are subtle, so it is quite possible that the most vehement of critics lack the subtlety to pick out on these developments.

  • Shizuka’s first combat sortie against the Neuroi sees her shoot down a small number, but she’s downed after witnessing (and becoming distracted) the scope of destruction the Neuroi leave. Her propensity to talk out her next actions while preparing to fire for the first time may seem a little unusual, but this isn’t uncommon: I used to talk it out during my first few weeks of driving, and it’s only with practise where my actions gradually become guided by skill rather than by mechanically reciting guidelines.

  • The Operation Victory Arrow OVAs show that Neuroi can be destroyed by means of conventional weaponry, although the movie exemplifies Yoshika’s sheer determination through her act of taking out a tower-like Neuroi without a Striker Unit. Up until this point (which was before Operation Victory Arrow was even known), no forces were shown to successfully destroy a Neuroi without direct action from the Witches.

  • However, Yoshika’s heroics are offset by her becoming grievously wounded in the process. Desperate, Shizuka calls for help and soon realises that the communication jamming would preclude any assistance from reaching Yoshika in time.

  • Today marks the four year anniversary since Strike Witches The Movie came out in Japanese theatres, and in a most pleasant turn of events, the food trucks were on campus. To kick the year off, I decided to go with a fried chicken poutine, which was as hearty and delicious as ever (today was a bit colder than the previous days, so something rich was most welcome). The food trucks came earlier this year, on the eve of my rehearsal for the upcoming conference workshop presentation. Aside from some minor changes, it seems that I’m good to go, and the departure date is coming up quite soon, so it’s time to finalise all of my documents and pack.

  • Some viewers erroneously believe that the light is what restores Yoshika’s power, but the light results from Yoshika reactivating her magic. In my initial post, I mentioned that Yoshika’s regaining of her magical abilities was not unreasonable, given that she’s already stated to have strong innate magical reserves, and drew the comparison to a rechargeable cell: the events of season two had drained her existing reserves, but she’d since recovered.

  • I wonder what tools were used to animate the swarms of Neuroi drones (and by extension, Gundam 00 Awakening of the Trailblazer‘s ELS). As part of my coursework this term, I implemented a simple version of Craig Reynold’s BOIDS to demonstrate flocking in Unity, and I wonder if animation software come along with similar systems to aid animators in creating complex, dynamic swarms.

  • After Yoshika reunites with everyone in the skies, a massive battlecruiser-like Neuroi appears, and so, the 501st finally fight together for the first time in Strike Witches: The Movie. It still surprises me as to how quiet the Japanese audiences were about the film after its release, standing in sharp contrast with Girls und Panzer Der Film, which was widely discussed and generated much more excitement. With that being said, the movies’ respective box office gross values might be indicative of the differences in viewership, accounting for the differences in discussion quantity.

  • When Strike Witches The Movie premièred in Japanese theatres four years ago, I was an undergraduate engaged in a presentation for biochemistry, studying for a cell and molecular biology midterm and working on a term project, finishing assignments for bioinformatics and writing a term paper on the implications of the Space Race for a course on military history of the Cold War. From this site’s archives, I played quite a bit of Team Fortress 2 during this time, as well, and began watching Angel Beats!.

  • All of this was before the MCAT, which I did that summer: between studying for said MCAT, I was waiting for the K-On! Movie, playing Microvolts and Team Fortress 2 (or watching Survivorman and Mythbusters) in my spare time, and so, despite the release date being announced in June 2012, Strike Witches The Movie fell from my mind. The MCAT came and went, and on the day of the exam in August, I watched sections of the K-On! Movie to calm my nerves. By the time my exam was over, the land was awash under the golden light of an evening sun, and after a dinner at the same Chinese bistro I mentioned in my earlier Tamayura ~Sotsugyou Shashin~ discussion, I slept the best sleep that I had all summer.

  • The remainder of the summer was spent working on my first-ever journal publication and preparing the framework for my undergraduate thesis. However, it was not all work; I also had the chance to drive out to the mountains for a short vacation and also watched The Dark Knight Rises in theatres. Soon, September arrived, during which I received my MCAT score, and my undergraduate thesis project started. September turned into October, and I busied myself with implementing a multi-scale model of the human renal system. When the movie released, I set aside the Friday evening to watch and review it, publishing the first set of screenshots (or frame grabs, whatever floats your boat) on the internet: when it comes down to it, I will work doubly hard on my main commitments so I can have a free evening or even a free day to properly review an anime movie.

  • My first review predominantly dealt with the fight prior to the battlecruiser-type Neuroi on account of spoilers and so, did not feature any of the Formation Julius tricks the 501st use to blow away this new Neuroi: using Yoshika’s shields as cover, the Witches punch straight through the battlecruiser-type to end its threat. The time has come to change that, and it is the group’s willingness to use unusual tactics, spurred on by Yoshika’s capabilities, that make them unique.

  • It’s quite surprising as to how quickly four years flies by, and although my aspirations for medical school were displaced by software development (a consequence of realising just how much I enjoyed the design, implementation and testing of my renal system simulation), I nonetheless recall memories of watching Strike Witches: The Movie and all of the work I did during that point quite vividly. Halo 4 was set to come out during October 2012, and Girls und Panzer had just began its televised run.

  • After seeing the 501st in combat with her own eyes, Shizuka realises that all of the stories were true, and her admiration for Yoshika is restored. She flies up to greet her and agrees to call her by name rather than rank. With the communications restored, the Witches move to take on new threats, and after the end credits roll, viewers are left with the message “to be continued”, which would become the only known bit of intel about the movie for seven months.

  • Thus ends my revisitation of Strike Witches: The Movie: while four years may have passed, the film remains as enjoyable as ever, and my recommendation for it to Strike Witches fans have not changed. It’s got elements to bring new viewers up to speed, but existing fans will definitely appreciate the nuances in the movie to a greater extent. This is the last of my posts for the present: as alluded to earlier, I’m flying out to a conference in a few days and will be too busy to write anything (between giving a workshop presentation and checking out all of the exhibitions). As such, regular posting will resume during the last week of March or early April, during which I will be reviewing Aokana and Haruchika in full.

The largest surprises Strike Witches: The Movie leaves behind is in its final moments, when Yoshika regains her magic, and after the ending credits, when the message “to be continued” is shown. Addressing Yoshika’s magic, this appeared to be the greatest point of contention amongst the viewers: some feel that it’s an acceptable narrative device, given that it allows for the 501st’s adventures to continue, while others found that the plot hole surrounding Yoshika were unacceptable and dampened the overall experience. I tend towards the former: Strike Witches never struck me as a serious anime because of its premise. Intrinsically, Strike Witches has always been driven by its characters rather than any sort of hard (or even soft) scientific basis, so in a sense, that the spirit of camaraderie is sufficient to reawaken Yoshika’s magic, despite coming across as being deus ex machina, nonetheless is the minimum satisfactory explanation that provides an opportunity to simply have Yoshika take flight once more and providing Shizuka with a demonstration that her idol, despite not observing military protocol, nonetheless is every bit as capable as she’d heard: she resolves to one day be as skillful as Yoshika. The other surprise was, of course, that a continuation of some sort would be coming. There was some speculation that it would again deal with the 501st, and while the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs appeared to signal an end to Strike Witches, this continuation appears to be taking the form of a third season following the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing. On the whole, my opinions on the movie have not changed too dramatically from when I first watched it back during October 2012: the visual and aural elements withstand the test of time, as do the pacing and execution of the narrative (so, the animation still looks quite polished, and the story does not appear to have diminished in comparison with newer installments of Strike Witches). In fact, having seen the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs, I can append that Strike Witches: The Movie represents the franchise’s first step in a new direction, driven by a story of some sort rather than pure fanservice. The OVAs take a leaf from Strike Witches: The Movie in that there is a consistent story, and this does mark a welcome direction in a franchise where the alternate history offers numerous opportunities for world-building: if this holds true for any sort of continuation, Strike Witches will prove to be more than a mere anime about pantsu.

Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects Us Reflection and Operation Victory Arrow News

“For fans who are sufficiently mature to get over the fanservice and minimal plot, there is much to be enjoyed from Strike Witches.” —Unknown

Late in July, I picked up a copy of Strike Witches: The Sky That Connects Us while browsing through the Chapters near campus. I had made the trip so I could purchase a birthday gift of sorts for a friend and came across a copy of the manga. Set between Strike Witches‘ season one and two in 1944, the manga details what the different members of the 501st Joint Fighter Wing are doing after they were discharged from combat operations following the first season. The original Japanese manga ran in NyanType magazine from September 26, 2009 to 2010, and was released as a single manga volume in September 2010, but it was only this June when an English version was published. It took me the entirity of August to read through it, mainly because I was also reading through Tom Clancy’s Command Authority, working on fine tuning the software for The Giant Walkthrough Brain‘s September 12/13 screening, and playing through Battlefield 4 and Titanfall from Origin’s Game Time program. Having finished the manga, I find it to be an excellent companion to the TV series, introducing several new characters into the mix while simutaneously returning readers to the familiar dynamics between the 501st members. Whether it be Lynette and Perrine’s participation in Gallia’s reconstruction, Erica and Gertrude’s encounter with a mysterious night witch or Charlotte and Francesca’s misadventures in Africa, the short stories covered in The Sky That Connects Us marks a welcome return to the Strike Witches universe, placing an emphasis on the light-hearted side of the Strike Witches franchise and answering nicely what happened between the two seasons.

  • Strike Witches is not intrinsically an anime “unable to let go of its mediocrity” (the individual who wielded such a phrase in their review is); the anime is simple and does not aim to be anything more than a fun series set in a different universe because it does not need to, and arguing about ambition is utterly meaningless (about as foolish as wondering why a shotgun cannot hit a target over 100 meters in Battlefield 3). If Strike Witches were meant to be serious, military hardware and focused leads would dominate the scene.

Besides the relatively recent release of the English-language version of The Sky That Connects Us, it is now common knowledge that Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow will be of a similar focus, dealing with what the girls were doing between season two and the movie. There are three OVA episodes: the first of these is dubbed Saint-Trond no Raimei, will showcase Ursula’s adventures with the Karlsland witches and will be set for release on September 20. The second OVA, titled Aegean Umi no Megami, will release on January 10, 2015 and follow the Africa Corps. At the time of writing, there has been no word on what the third one will be about, but the process of elimination suggests that it’ll be about Eliya and Sanya, Lynette and Perinne and/or the Fuso witches. No release date has been provided for the third OVA, either. With this said, I will try to have a talk out for each of the Strike Witches OVAs one the home releases become available. The release dates provided are for theatres, so the home releases will probably come out a ways after that, but in the meantime, I am quite interested to see what stories the OVAs will present. I understand that Strike Witches is not for everyone, but I find that it has a certain charm, less so for the lack of pants and more so for the alternate-universe setting.

Strike Witches Movie Review

In 1945, Yoshika Miyafuji, who lost her witch powers during the Strike Witches‘ last assignment, has been studying to become a doctor. Shizuka Hattori, one of her cadets in the Imperial Fuso Navy, then arrives to deliver a message: Yoshika is to be transferred for study abroad in Europe.

Personal Opinion

Like the K-On! review, there is a review written at my main website, providing an alternate set of screenshots and discussions. The post here is more plot-oriented, while the review at the website is more similar to a discussion of various elements in the movie.

The Strike Witches Movie is an extension of the TV series set in the movie format, as per its title, and as such, inherits all of the characteristics of the TV series. These traits include the casual plot progression and impressive visuals, as well as the formulaic development of the story: in fact, the movie can be said to draw inspiration directly from the TV series, featuring a similar exposition, rising action, climax and falling action. That said, the joys of watching Strike Witches lies not in the story itself, but the presentation and delivery of the material. Given that the movie is essentially a subclass of the TV series, everything seen in the latter can be seen in the former, but, like all subclasses, the movie introduces several new elements that takes the form of other witches, giving insight as to the sheer number of characters in the universe and their interactions with the witches in the 501st. While these stories are being told, Yoshika’s own travels with Shizuka Hattori form the backbone for the other side of the story. Upon reaching Europe, Yoshika finds herself unable to participate in combat operations and medical missions to the same extent she was once capable of in the TV series, but nonetheless attempts to help in any way she can. In a sense, the Strike Witches Movie draws some curious parallels with the Gundam 00 Movie: firstly, fans of Strike Witches will enjoy the movie, much like how Gundam 00 fans will have found their movie enjoyable. However, the assumption that viewers have a general familiarity with the story means that, like the Gundam 00 Movie, the Strike Witches Movie will leave new viewers behind in some of the terminology and expository elements. It is certainly possible to enjoy the movie as it is, although the experience is improved with a bit of knowledge concerning the aforementioned expository elements. The second set of similarities have to do with depiction of the Neuroi, which exhibit ELS-like attributes with respect to appearance and swarming behaviours, and finally, there is an uncanny parallel between Setsuna’s activation of the 00 Qan[T] and Yoshika’s recovery of her magical abilities in the final moments of their respective films. The last element is a textbook example of deus ex machina, and conveniently clears up the conflict that the rising action built on. While some view this as laziness, alternative interpretations would suggest that unique circumstances may arise in the midst of a crisis and act to produce miracles of sorts. These events are not impossible even in reality, so an open-minded viewer may be willing to suspend their disbelief and merely enjoy the story as it progresses. This claim neatly summarises my own opinions of the Strike Witches Movie: for current fans, it is most enjoyable, although newcomers will probably find that their time would be better directed at other shows, if only for the fact that such series require a bit of background that not everyone may commit time to familiarise themselves with. The movie is strong where the TV series is strong (character interactions, graphical and audio details), and weak where the TV series is weak (story progression rate, derivation in plot-advancing elements): overall, it serves as a worthy extension to the TV series and is sure to be an enjoyable watch for fans of the franchise.

  • Armed with my rudimentary and decidedly inferior Japanese skills, I’ll attempt to translate the gist of some of the moments. The movie opens with Hattori arriving to recommission Yoshika and send her to Europe: apparently, Mio was the one pulling the strings.

  • Charlotte and Lucchini are on vacation in Venizia: during their stay, the new model Neuroi appear, forcing the two into combat. They are given orders to meet with Commander Minna following their victory.

  • Yoshika has been commissioned following the events of season two and now holds the rank of shoui, which approximates to the rank of ensign in the Navy. Hattoriis a gunsou: until I get further clarification, the army equivalent of that rank is sergeant. Hattori’s lack of combat experience, coupled with stories about Yoshika’s exploits, led her to question the latter’s capacity as on officer.

  • Hattori meets Lynette and Perrine during the course of their ground journey and expresses surprise at the differences in their cultures. They travel to Perrine’s estate, which is being rebuilt and appears to be a winery.

  • While Commander Minna is designing a plan of sorts concerning the Witches, Erica and Gertrude are preparing for another patrol. Erica’s tantrum here was immensely amusing.

  • Gertrude and Erica encounter one of the new-type Neuroi while on ground patrol. These Neuroi appeared in Karlsland and is capable of movement on the ground, as well as in the air. This form has an appearance similar to that of a stick grenade. Another new type of Neuroi is presented: appearing like the ELS probes, they fight in swarms.

  • The new generation Neuroi have evolved to use radio-jamming: unable to call for reinforcements, Hattori is forced to take to the skies and engage them. Despite initial successes against the ELS-like Neuroi, she is shot down.

  • This has to be the best damn moment in the movie: despite lacking any powers, Yoshika grabs one of the auto-cannons, hauls it into the jeep and pursues the Neuroi. After a chaotic chase, she is able to shoot it down, but is severely injured in the process.

  • Mio makes a return in a biplane. Despite lacking any magic, her boisterous personality remains. The 501st have converged at this point and begin engaging the ELS probes, even as a massive battleship-like Neuroi begins to appear.

  • Movies are well-known for having excellent visuals surpassing those of their original TV series, and Strike Witches is no exception. From the blues of the skies to the textures in the trees, muzzle flashes and spent cartridges, the details bring the movie to life.

  • The sight of the 501st in combat gives Yoshika resolve, much as how Setsuna gains the resolve to exit his coma in the Gundam 00 Movie. From this resolve, Yoshika’s magic returns in full force, healing her and projecting a massive shield. This power is eerily similar to the 00 Qan[T]’s first appearance on the battlefield, where it precisely snipes an ELS probe from beyond visual range.

  • The 501st only really fight as a team in the film’s final moments. I have not heard much assessments of the movie from other sources, and in fact, news and interest in the movie have been more or less minimal since it was released today.

  • It turns out the “bomb” carried by Mio is actually the Shinden. Yoshika touches it tenderly as if greeting an old friend and immediately soars into the skies. One of the largest grievances I foresee with this turn of events is that some will find Yoshika regaining her magic to be plot-breaking, although consulting the source materials finds that Witches only weaken in magical output past the age of 20 such that they cannot fly a Striker unit but otherwise can retain some use of their magic.

  • So ,while Yoshika may have exhausted her magic two months earlier, it’s more than possible that she’s regenerated by this point. It’s rather similar to how a rechargeable battery works: the battery has a limited voltage and will deplete with use, but can be recharged (although this reduces the voltage the battery can output with consecutive recharges). In addition, Yoshika has consistently been shown to have quite a bit of innate magical power, so this outcome is not too surprising. After sharing a brief moment with Lynette, Gertrude passes Yoshika one of her own guns. Together with the 501st, they annihilate the Neuroi in a spectacular battle.

  • The movie ends with “to be continued”, something that isn’t expected from most movies. This implies that a third season will follow. The movie concludes with Yoko Ishida’s Yakusoku no sora e- watashi no ita basho.

Contrasting my usual posts, this review was made from the RAW material rather than a subbed version. With what appeared to be very little interest from the community in general, I figured I would create a reasonably detailed post about the movie such that interested parties would be able to decide if the movie was worthwhile or not. My opinion stands as thus: fans of the series will enjoy the movie, while newcomers could probably do something more constructive with 94 minutes of time.